For the past few weeks, local athletes competing abroad have shown streaks of great form ahead of the London 2017 World Championships billed for August next month.
In what has been a delightful few weeks; Isaac Makwala, Nijel Amos and Baboloki Thebe have enthralled Batswana with podium finishes at different Diamond League meets in Europe.
While the performances have since risen hope among locals that Botswana may shine at the World Championships, an air of pessimism has, however, been over the local camp as to whether the country will be well prepared to seriously compete at the event.
With only a month to go before the World Championships, some members of the Botswana athletes are yet to start earnest preparations for the event.
The lack of preparations has put in jeopardy Botswana’s chances of making the podium finishes, more especially in the relay categories where the country is tipped to bring home a medal.
Speaking in an interview, Botswana team coach Mogomotsi Otsetswe lamented that while performances and preparations of a select few athletes were impressive, it was worrying that the whole team was not getting the same preparations.
“It is very disconcerting for us that while other countries have started preparing for the World Championships as teams, there is still uncertainty in our preparations. We are yet to start preparing as a team,” Otsetswe said.
Otsetswe said if things were done according to the plans they had put in place, all athletes going to the World Championships would have been in Europe by now to prepare and compete.
“Individually, our athletes, both men and women are doing fine. However, being stuck here in Botswana is a setback because there are no races taking place around and the weather is also unfavourable,” he explained.
“It has been a long time since the majority of the athletes going to the World Champions competed and they are now rusty. The weather is also not favourable here because it is very cold and it is not good for us,” Otsetswe continued.
While the men’s team can take comfort in that the majority of its athletes are actively competing, Otsetswe was, however, more concerned over the women’s team.
“If you look at the team, only Lydia Jele has been competing and is not so rusty. However, the likes of Amantle Montsho, Christine Botlogile and Galefele Moroko have been idle for a long time now and are rusty. This is not good for our women’s relay team,” he said.
The same sentiments were echoed by Botswana Press Agency (BOPA) sport analyst Anastacia Sibanda.
“I doubt we are ready for the World Championships. Not if we still have almost all of our top athletes who have qualified for the championships not actively preparing. For athletes to do well, they have to be training in certain weather conditions, be actively competing and our athletes are not getting that,” Sibanda opined.
“At this moment, the weather here is very cold and we all know athletes need warm conditions to prepare effectively. This is not good for athletes,” she said.
Sibanda said the least that could have been done, if the athletes could not train in warm weather conditions, would have been to be sent to Maun to train there as was done prior to last year’s Olympics when the funds were scarce.
“I have read some analysis that our 400m x 400m team are medal prospects at the upcoming World Championships. But for us to bring home a medal, we must have prepared adequately and like I said, I do not think we have,” opined Sibanda.
“For you to do well in athletics, you have to have competed consistently for a certain time without a break. Our athletes have not competed in a very long time and that will come into play at the championships,” she explained.